"There is nothing more dangerous than a dull knife"
- Scary Chef instructor
During one of my first days in Culinary school, a particularly grumpy chef instructor with only four and a half fingers on his left hand, said those words. Although it may seem counter intuitive, a dull knife can cause way more damage than a sharp one.
A SHARP KNIFE cuts where you want it to cut, at the expected angle and speed that you choose. Whereas a dull knife is about as dependable as a used car salesman. We tend to push the blade harder into whatever were trying to cut, and dull blade will slide to a side (your fingers) or even need a "sawing" action to actually perform.
THIS IS WHEN YOU CUT YOURSELF
Recently while teaching a Cooking class, I was asked by the sponsors to give a brief how-to on knife skills. This wasn't the type of class that beginners signed up for, so was surprised that they had deemed it necessary, but apparently there had been some very close calls at previous classes and they wanted to keep things from getting too bloody. I was shocked at how many questions the participants had and also by how many of them admitted to me that they had been holding a knife wrong for their entire lives (its very common, don't feel too bad :)
This doesn't mean that you have to go out and buy yourself a ton of crazy expensive knives ( though having at least one nice knife will last you a lifetime)
Get yourself a knife sharpener. The Work Sharp Culinary E5 Knife Sharpener is the one I use, and I LOVE it.
A little about the Work Sharp Culinary E5 Sharpener. There are a million sharpeners out there, but I like this one because its fool proof. There's an electric sharpener that helps (forces) you to sharpen your knife at the right angles, and all you have to do is push a button. You can sharpen pretty much any knife on it! (I've even sharpened my scissors.)
Then when I'm traveling, I keep the honing rod (ceramic sharpening stick) with me to keep my knives sharp at all times.
A sharp knife is not only safer, but it will obviously work better. Herbs, fruits and veggies are elevated when cut beautifully. The difference in a well cut tomato is the difference between a Caprese salad, and salsa. Its especially relevant when cutting large pieces of meat. Why put hour of work into cooking a gorgeous turkey or brisket, just to do a hack job while trying to slice it with a dull knife? Food should taste good AND be beautiful. A sharp knife, and a great sharpener will help to make that happen.
Here is a simple how-to video for my favorite sharpener (The Work Sharp Culinary E5 Knife Sharpener)